Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Prison awaits 3 students Teens plead guilty in deal for robbing bank with airsoft guns; they will be sentenced after school year

Three high school students will be able to finish out their school year before being sentenced to prison for robbing an Ann Arbor bank, under a plea agreement entered Monday.

The students for the first time publicly admitted using a plastic pellet gun to rob the bank last summer. Authorities said the three immediately began spending the $19,000 on expensive jewelry, clothing and stereo equipment.

Charles Heath, Brian Jackson, and Brian White will be sentenced June 9 to 31/2 to 6 years in prison under an agreement with the court.

The three teens, all age 17 at the time of the robbery, were charged by prosecutors with one count of bank robbery, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit bank robbery. Under state criminal law, 17-year-olds are treated as adults.

Prosecutors dropped the bank robbery charges, punishable by up to life in prison, in exchange for the teens' guilty pleas on the other charges.

Heath, who turned 18 last month, and White were to start their senior years at Pioneer High School the week after the robbery. Jackson is a former Pioneer student who lives in the Flint area.

During their court appearance Monday, the teens stood together in suits with their attorneys and jointly entered their pleas as parents and other supporters filled the first two rows of the courtroom. Each told Circuit Judge Melinda Morris about their roles in the Aug. 22 heist at the KeyBank at 2207 W. Stadium Blvd.

"We decided we were going to go into the bank and use an airsoft pistol to rob it,'' Heath told Morris. He described how he and Jackson entered the branch after 4 p.m. and demanded $50,000 from the tellers.

White said he helped the others plan the robbery and provided the getaway vehicle for a cut of the money.

The robbers left with $19,000, which police said the teens began to spend immediately.

The teens are free on bond pending sentencing, which officials said was intentionally set for after the school year.

White is currently enrolled as a senior at Pioneer, school district officials said.

Heath is taking some classes at the Ann Arbor Public Schools' Roberto Clemente Student Development Center in Pittsfield Township and is being homeschooled, said his attorney, Joe Simon.

Jackson is residing in the Flint area and attends schools regularly there, said his attorney, Mike Vincent.

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